Vaping is just as bad as smoking cigarettes for increasing the risk of heart disease ‘because it stiffens blood vessels in the same way’
- Study of more than 400 people assessed how vaping affects blood vessels
- Vaping has same impact on blood vessels as people who only smoke cigarettes
- Nicotine restricts blood vessels and over time this leads to them becoming rigid
- Rigid arteries are known to increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease
Vaping causes significant damage to blood vessels in the same way as smoking traditional cigarettes, a study has found.
Blood vessels become stiffer and less effective in vapers and people who both vape and smoke, compared to non-smokers.
People who only inhale from cigarettes and do not vape also have the same issue of stiffening blood vessels.
Nicotine — the addictive substance in vapes and cigarettes — constricts blood vessels and over time this leads to a loss of elasticity.
Rigid arteries and blood vessels are known to increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease.
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Blood vessels become stiffer and less effective in vapers and people who both vape and smoke. Cigarette only smokers had the same issue. Rigid arteries and blood vessels are known to increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease (stock)
Researchers studied more than 400 men and women aged between 21 and 45 made up of non-smokers, cigarette smokers, e-cigarette users and people who both smoked and vaped.
All e-cigarette users were former cigarette smokers.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on Wednesday, found that former smokers who switched to e-cigarettes and dual users had arteries that were just as stiff as those in traditional smokers.
Jessica Fetterman, assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, led the research and said stiffening of the arteries can contribute to heart disease.
She said: ‘Many people believe e-cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes.
‘In fact, most e-cigarette users say the primary reason they use e-cigarettes is because they think e-cigarettes pose less of a health risk.
‘Meanwhile, the evidence from scientific studies is growing that e-cigarettes might not be the safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes when it comes to heart health.
‘Our study adds to that evidence. Stiffening of the arteries can cause damage to the small blood vessels, including capillaries, and puts additional stress on the heart, all of which can contribute to the development of heart disease.’
The study was funded through the Tobacco Centre of Regulatory Science of the American Heart Association.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on Wednesday, found that former smokers who switched to e-cigarettes and dual users had arteries that were just as stiff as those in traditional smokers (stock)
The researchers also found that the cells that line the blood vessels – called endothelial cells – appeared to be equally as damaged whether people used e-cigarettes, cigarettes or both.
Dr Fetterman added: ‘The endothelial cells from e-cigarette users or dual users produced less of the heart-protective compound nitric oxide, compared to non-tobacco users.
‘Their cells also produced more reactive oxygen species, which cause damage to the parts of cells such as DNA and proteins.
‘Our study results suggest there is no evidence that the use of e-cigarettes reduces cardiovascular injury, dysfunction or harm associated with the use of combustible tobacco products.’
An independent report, commissioned by Public Health England (PHE), said that vaping among young people in England has remained steady, with estimates putting it at 6 per cent of 11- to 15-year-olds in 2018, and 5 per cent of 11- to 18-year-olds in 2019.
The report, published in March, also found that vaping among adults in England had also remained stable since 2014 and was between 5 per cent and 7 per cent in 2019.
Debate over how harmful vaping is leads to confusion
E-cigarettes have the potential to benefit some people, by helping them quit smoking. But scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are truly effective for quitting smoking and what the long-term risks are.
Nicotine is already known to be highly addictive and harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine. Aerosol is inhaled into the lungs and can contain potentially harmful substances, including heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents.
US health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are investigating an outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI).
The mystery illness has swept across the states. Officials have identified Vitamin E acetate as a chemical of concern. THC is present in most of the fluid samples collected from the lungs of ill people, and most patients report a history of using THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
‘Popcorn lung’ is the nickname for bronchiolitis obliterans, a condition which damages the smallest airways in the lungs and has been linked to people with vaping-related breathing problems. However, there’s no good evidence that e-cigarettes could cause the lung condition, according to Cancer Research UK.
The flavourings in electronic cigarettes may damage blood vessels in the same way as heart disease, according to research published in June 2018.
The chemicals used to give the vapour flavours, such as cinnamon, strawberry and banana, can cause inflammation in cells in the arteries, veins and heart.
They cause the body to react in a way that mimics the early signs of heart disease, heart attacks or strokes, the study by Boston University found.
Other recent studies have also suggested smoking e-cigarettes could cause DNA mutations which lead to cancer, and enable pneumonia-causing bacteria to stick to the lungs easier.
Researchers at New York University subjected human bladder and lung cells to e-cigarette vapor, which is marketed as being healthier than tobacco.
They found the cells mutated and became cancerous much faster than expected and mice exposed to the vapour also suffered significant DNA damage.
In another study, scientists at Queen Mary University, London, found vaping makes users more likely to catch pneumonia – just like smoking tobacco or breathing in traffic fumes.
The vapour from e-cigarettes helps bacteria which cause the condition to stick to the cells that line the airways, they said.
The effect occurs with traditional cigarette smoke and those who are exposed to air pollution high in particulates from vehicle exhausts.
An April 20202 study found vaping damages the arteries and blood vessel function much like smoking traditional cigarettes.
The team studied measures of blood vessel function in e-cigarette and dual users who had been using e-cigarettes for at least three months.
All e-cigarette users were former cigarette smokers.
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